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How German POWs in Iowa Reacted to Nazi Atrocities

In spring 1945, following Nazi Germany’s defeat, the U.S. Army forced most of the German POWs in the United States at the war’s end to view documentary films about the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The two below articles from Camp Algona's POW-written newspapers show the men's reactions:

Drahtpost #15

3 June 1945
(translated by Alex J. Kay)

POWs Must See Camp Atrocity Films
           The [U.S. Army] considers it very important that 343,000 German prisoners in America watch films which show the atrocities in murder camps in Germany. The comments in the films are translated into German. The army supports this program with a second plan—to send to each POW-camp illustrated booklets with headings in the German language, which also show collected details of German atrocities. (The Des Moines Register, 12 May 1945)

(The editor’s of Camp Algona’s Lagerzeitung published the following related article:)

Lagerzeitung #1

21 July 1945
(translated by Alex J. Kay)

Prisoners of War Reject Atrocities
           During the last few days we read the following article by German prisoners of war in Camp Clarinda/Iowa in the American daily newspaper “The Des Moines Register” of 4 July 1945 about the atrocities in Germany:

           “German POW’s who see films about German atrocities reject the atrocities”
           Camp Clarinda, Iowa: German prisoners of war in this camp called the atrocities that have been committed by other Germans of their homeland “deplorable”.
           After they had seen a special film about the German atrocities, 225 of the Germans sent a letter to the camp’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. George Ball, in which they dissociated themselves from the National Socialist treatment of prisoners in Buchenwald.
           They declared that the atrocities are completely in conflict with the thinking of every German front soldier. Ball said the original letter bore only the signature of the German camp spokesman at first, but it was later signed by everyone who had seen the film. After that the signed protest against the National Socialist atrocities was passed on to the headquarters of the 7th Service Command in Omaha, Nebraska.
           “After we showed them the film, which really contained some terrible scenes”, said Ball, “we gave illustrated books, which also portrayed atrocities, to the compound, through which the horror should be indelibly preserved in the memory of the prisoners.”
           The prisoners in this camp are 'veterans' of the fighting in Tunisia, Italy and France.”
           With inner satisfaction we took note of this clear and unambiguous statement from German prisoners of war. Like them, all decent thinking men in Camp Algona also have turned away from these pictures with utmost revulsion and condemned the atrocities with deepest regret. The film recordings and magazines, which we also have seen in this camp, shook us—in particular as front soldiers who have fought obediently and conscientiously for their country and respected the opponent as soldier and human being; we also saw soldiers in our former opponents. We, therefore, only can declare our complete and total solidarity with the public condemnation and rejection of these atrocities by the prisoners of war from Camp Clarinda.

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